Testimony of a medical expert may be crucial to succeed in a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit. In a September 2, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether the opinion of the plaintiff’s medical expert met the requirements of the Maryland Civil Rules. The issue was raised by the defendants, who appealed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff for almost $300,000.
In the case, the defendants had performed a total hip replacement on the plaintiff. Shortly after the surgery, the plaintiff began to experience severe pain and discomfort. The defendants ordered x-rays several days later, which revealed that the prosthetic had perforated through the plaintiff’s femur and into the muscles of his thigh. The plaintiff subsequently underwent another surgery to correctly place the prosthetic.
The plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice suit against the surgeon and the hospital, alleging that the defendants failed to diagnose and correct the misplaced prosthetic during or after the first surgery. At trial, the plaintiff’s medical expert testified that the defendants did not meet the standard of care because they had failed to use x-rays during the surgery or order x-rays following the surgery. After the jury found the defendants negligent, the defendants appealed.
On appeal, the defendants argued, among other things, that the trial court should have excluded the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert because it lacked an adequate factual basis. Specifically, the defendants argued that the expert’s conclusions were not based on any medical literature, guidelines, or statements of medical organizations, nor had he authored any publications regarding the use of x-rays during surgery or post-operative radiology. The defendants further asserted that the expert had no support for his opinion other than the fact that he and other physicians in his locality used such methods when performing hip replacements.
Under Maryland Civil Rules, expert testimony is admissible if the court determines that: (1) the witness is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, (2) the expert testimony on the particular subject is appropriate, and (3) there is a sufficient factual basis to support the expert testimony. With respect to the third element, the factual basis for expert testimony may arise from a number of sources, including facts obtained from first-hand knowledge.
The appeals court concluded that the trial court did not err by allowing the expert to testify. In particular, the court found that the expert had over thirty years of experience in the field of orthopedic surgery and had performed between 1700 to 1800 hip replacement procedures over the past ten years, among other qualifications. The appeals court held that the expert’s extensive training, experience, and knowledge of hip replacement surgery provided a sufficient factual basis to render his opinion. The court went on to affirm the verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys can advise people who have been injured by negligent health care professionals. We handle a range of personal injury claims, including motor vehicle collisions and slip and fall accidents. Request a free consultation by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.